March 3, 2020

In partnership with the FAA, the Aeronautics Division of the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) will be adding real-time cameras to its network of 13 automated weather observing systems (AWOS) situated at select airports, and the mountain passes that lead to many ski-country destinations. The images will be integrated with the FAA’s weather camera program website.

Like Alaska, Colorado owns its network of mountain AWOS equipment, said David Ulane, CDOT director of aeronautics. Colorado is the second state to participate in the FAA’s Weather Camera Program, established in 1999. When access is available to remote Rocky Mountain sites, FAA crews will install the camera system on each AWOS station. “The plan is to have all of them online before winter returns later this year,” Ulane said.

“Having an extra set of eyes in these Colorado mountain passes will improve safety immeasurably by giving pilots a picture of the AWOS numbers,” said John Kosak, CAM, weather program manager for NBAA Air Traffic Services. “The images will not only help confirm AWOS data and weather trends, they can also alert them to malfunctions when the numbers and images don’t seem to have a logical connection.”

Heidi Williams, NBAA’s director of air traffic services and infrastructure, added that operators have seen great benefit to having this system in Alaska, and “the industry has made the request for these cameras in Colorado for years, so we are thrilled to see this come to fruition.”

Colorado’s network is strategically located throughout the mountains, said Ulane, such as “Sunlight Mountain, which is just west of Eagle and Aspen.” Installing multiple cameras at each site, the FAA crews will position them to view the conditions around the airport, air routes, or mountain passes. The cameras post real-time still images and update them every 10 minutes. A loop of time-stamped images from each camera provides a six-hour look at weather trends.

This system has been on pilots’ wish list for some time, “and we’re happy that the FAA has the expertise and we had the funding for another cool collaboration between us to augment aviation safety in Colorado,” said Ulane.